English Department 2024-25 Graduate Seminars

Faculty of Arts
Department of English
Graduate studies
A list of all upcoming graduate seminars for the academic year, 2024-25. Scheduling tbd. Texts and assignments may vary.

ENG 6304 Critical Methodologies in Literary Studies 

Professor Kim Andrews

This is a course in a kind of thinking usually labelled “theory,” which often, at first, sounds intimidating and like something you might not know how to read or do. However, in Professing Literature, Gerald Graff makes the point that “there is a sense in which all teachers of literature are ‘theorists’ and have a stake in theoretical disputes” (2). This course builds on Graff’s argument that theory is relevant to everyone who studies or even just enjoys literature. By the end of this course, students should recognize that critical theory addresses many of the same concerns and offers many of the same rewards that drew us to literature itself in the first place: the ability to think more clearly and deeply about the world around us and our own potential contributions to that world.

Both MA and PhD students are welcome in this course. Don't worry if you find some or all of the readings quite challenging—everyone does, and your confidence will grow as we work through the texts together. Our goal will be to develop a working familiarity with some of the theoretical texts, concepts, and debates that have shaped the field of literary studies; to explore what scholars in ourfield have found helpful, interesting, and/or problematic about each text; and to practice approaching unfamiliar texts and ideas with curiosity, patience, and an open mind. 

Thinkers covered in this class include, but are not limited to: Cleanth Brooks, Viktor Shklovsky, Caroline Levine, Karl Marx, Stuart Hall, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Sianne Ngai, Édouard Glissant, Sylvia Wynter, Tiffany Lethabo King, and Margaret Ronda. 

ENG7331: Ecopoetics and Environmental Justice

Professor Anne Raine

This seminar will investigate the vibrant field of contemporary ecopoetics and environmental justice studies, focusing on the work of poets in the U.S. from the late twentieth century to the present. Our reading list will include activist ecopoetry in the popular Romantic tradition, experimental work influenced by poststructuralist critiques of nature and the lyric self, and environmental justice poetry that adapts, critiques, or offers alternatives to White Euro-American ecopoetic traditions. Our goal will be to consider how different poetic strategies reflect, complicate, unsettle, or enrich our understanding of particular environmental justice issues as well as our understanding of the more-than-human world and the place of humans within it. We’ll begin with some definitions of ecopoetry and eco-justice poetry, and will situate our inquiry within relevant debates in ecocriticism and the environmental humanities. We will alternate between open-ended, collaborative exploration of selected sections of the Ghost Fishing anthology and more in-depth critical reading of book-length poetic works.

Questions we’ll explore:
• What kinds of reading strategies does poetry require? What do we gain from reading a poem that we don’t get from reading fiction, journalism, or theory (and vice versa)? 
• What arguments do the poems make about environmental or climate issues? How do they use formal strategies to explore, critique, or celebrate relations between humans, nonhumans, and the earth? 
• How can studying ecopoetry enrich our understanding of how climate change and environmental injustice are interconnected with capitalism, colonialism, and white supremacy? How can it help us reflect more critically on our own role in ongoing systems of social and environmental injustice? 
• To what extent do the poems portray BIPOC and working-class people as victims of environmental injustice, or as active agents in resisting oppression and helping build a more just and sustainable world? 
• To what extent do the poems remain anthropocentric in their focus on human rights, needs, and desires? To what extent do they expand our attention beyond the human scale or attend to the rights, needs, or “world-making projects” of nonhuman beings and phenomena?  
• What kinds of thinking, habits of attention, or structures of feeling do different poetic strategies enable? How can these modes of engagement contribute to the struggle for climate action and multispecies environmental justice? How can they help us move from reading and analysis to action? 

Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology, edited by Melissa Tuckey (U of Georgia P, 2018)
Charles Olson, Selected Poems (U of California P, 1993)
Gary Snyder, Turtle Island (New Directions, 1974)
Susan Howe, Singularities (Wesleyan UP, 1990)
Derek Walcott, Omeros (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1990)
Linda Hogan, The Book of Medicines (Coffee House Press, 1993)
Patricia Smith, Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press, 2008)
Juliana Spahr, That Winter the Wolf Came (AK Press, 2015)
Course packet of critical, theoretical, and environmental- historical articles. 

ENG 7320: Black Activist Writing in Early Canada: Print, Pleasure, Politics

Prof. Jennifer Blair

This course focuses on the understudied area of Black literary history in early Canada, with a decided move away from the genre of the “slave narrative” in order to consider the work of diverse Black authors who voiced their concerns for their individual and collective futures through the medium of print (sometimes by telling the stories of their lives, and sometimes not). Contrary to what the literary canon still espouses, Black authors in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Canada were plentiful, organized, experienced, and professional. Their writing charted its own path when it came to publishing practices, literary aspirations, and pursuit of authorial recognition. As a result, studying this work requires an attentiveness to the unique research methods and protocols that it warrants as well as knowledge of the historical and political contexts that inform it. The texts we will study call for a better understanding and critique of race-based slavery in Canada (the fact of slavery’s existence in this country as well as its ideologies and social forms that persisted long after abolition) and of the common but inaccurate view of Canada as a safe haven for Black freedom seekers. They mobilize these critiques through pointed analyses of the intricacies of their moment, particularly of concepts like property, individualism, kinship, agency, and nationhood that shaped their worlds, and of significant events in Black history such as the Sierra Leone resettlement scheme, the raid on Harper’s Ferry, and the Coloured Conventions movement. The reading list includes a wide range of genres not always classified as “literary” (newspaper articles, conversion narratives, meeting minutes, speeches, sermons, pamphlets, and personal journals and other archival fragments), and our class conversations and assignments will emphasize book history approaches (for example, we will talk about how documents were produced and distributed, how their accounts compare to related historical accounts, and how separate editions of texts differ). There will be a class visit to the University of Ottawa Library Archives to view the original 1798 publication of Boston King’s narrative; however, most of the texts we will study are only available online (get ready for lots of screen reading). The texts themselves are comparatively short, but students should note there will be additional workload in terms of substantial weekly scholarly readings and a research component of course assignments. Overall, students will be expected to consistently work at developing their familiarity with early Black print culture studies throughout the course in order to participate meaningfully in class discussion. This is an exciting opportunity to work in an important area of Canadian literary studies, with the potential to make a real contribution to the field, but it also comes with the challenges of conducting new historical research and working with unique texts and potentially unfamiliar methods.

Course Texts: 
John Marrant, A Narrative of the Life of John Marrant (1787)
A Journal of the Rev. John Marrant (1790)
Boston King, Memoirs of the Life of Boston King, A Preacher (1798)
Josiah Henson, The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as 
Narrated by Himself (1849)
Thomas Smallwood, A Narrative of Thomas Smallwood (1851)
Paola Brown, Address intended to be delivered in the City Hall, Hamilton, February 7, 1851, on 
the Subject of Slavery (1851)
Mary Ann Shadd, A Plea for Emigration (1852)
Richard Warren, A Narrative of the Life and Sufferings of Rev. Richard Warren (1856)
Benjamin Drew (editor) A North-Side View of Slavery. The Refugee: or the Narratives of Fugitive 
Slaves in Canada. Related by Themselves, with an Account of the History and Condition 
of the Colored Population of Upper Canada (1856)
Osborne Perry Anderson, A Voice from Harper’s Ferry (1861)
Coloured Conventions in Canada (1850s & 1860s, including excerpts from Voice of the Fugitive 
and other minutes digitized in the Colored Conventions Project website)
The Black Prairie Archives Anthology (edited by Karina Vernon; excerpts, early 20th century)
William H.H. Johnson, The New Race (1904)
Supplementary Readings (subject to change):
Winfried Siemerling, The Black Atlantic Reconsidered (2015) (chapters 2 and 3)
Karina Vernon, “Fresh-Water Archives: Reading Water in Troy Burle Bailey’s The Pierre Bonga 
Loops” (2020) (in Moving Archives, edited by Linda Morra)
Tara Bynum, Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America (2023) (“Introduction” 
and “Desiring John Marrant”)
Rhondda Robinson Thomas, “Black Life Writing and Print Culture Before 1850” (2021) (from A 
History of African American Autobiography, edited by Joycelyn Moody)
Donna Pennee, “Benjamin Drew and Samuel Gridley Howe on Race Relations in Early Ontario: 
Mythologizing and Debunking Canada West’s ‘Moral Superiority’” (2022) (Journal of 
Canadian Studies)
Derrick Spires, The Practice of Citizenship (2019) Introduction and chapter 2)
Marcy Dinius, Textual Effects of David Walker’s “Appeal” (2022) (chapter 6)
Joseph Rezek, “Early Black Evangelical Writing and the Limits of Print” (2022) (from African 
American Literature in Transition, volume 1)
Rinaldo Walcott, The Long Emancipation (2021) (excerpt)
W.E.B. DuBois, John Brown (1909) (excerpt)
Heather Murray, “Culture and Conflict in the Western District” (2002) (from Come Bright 
Improvement!: The Literary Societies of Nineteenth-Century Ontario)

ENG 7300 British Literature and The Cinematic

Professor James Brooke-Smith

In a famous interview with Alfred Hitchcock in 1962, Francois Truffaut asked, “isn’t there a certain incompatibility between the term ‘cinema’ and ‘Britain’,” and suggested that British culture was too rural, traditional and literary to produce a truly great film culture. Less well known, but more salient for our purposes in this class, was the belated response of Stephen Frears, director of My Beautiful Launderette, The Queen, and several other seminal works of British cinema, to Truffaut’s provocation: “The great French film-maker, Francois Truffaut, once famously said that there was a certain incompatibility between the words British and Cinema. Well, bollocks to Truffaut!”

This class will explore the relationship between literature and cinema in Britain. It is not principally a course about film adaptations of novels (although we will watch several), but an opportunity to explore the overlaps, tensions, and exchanges between two closely related artforms as they have developed in a medium sized post-colonial nation perched in the mid-Atlantic between Europe and North America. Some of the topics we will consider include: the avant-garde documentary tradition; social (sur)realism and kitchen sink aesthetics; regional accents and identities; post-colonial migration and cultural hybridity; the pastoral; youth culture in text and image; surveillance, espionage, and CCTV; waste lands and eco-apocalypses; travel to the continent; American imports; haunted landscapes.

Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent
Christopher Isherwood, Prater Violet
Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca
Colin McInnes, Absolute Beginners
Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley
Barry Hines, My Kestrel for a Knave
J.G. Ballard, Empire of the Sun
Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
P.D. James, Children of Men

Anthony Asquith, A Cottage on Dartmoor
Kenneth MacPherson, Borderline
Alfred Hitchcock, Sabotage
David Lean, Oliver Twist
Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca
Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger, A Matter of Life and Death
Lindsay Anderson, If…
Tony Richardson, A Taste of Honey
Richard Lester, A Hard Day’s Night
Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange
Ken Loach, Kes
Derek Jarman, Jubilee
Stephen Frears, My Beautiful Launderette
Gurinder Chadha, Bhaji on the Beach
Alan Clarke, Rita, Sue, and Bob Too
Steve McQueen, Lover’s Rock
Anthony Minghella, The Talented Mr. Ripley
Alphonso Cuaron, 28 Days Later
Andrea Arnold, Red Road
Lynne Ramsey, Morvern Callar
Christopher Nolan, Following
Joanna Hogg, Unrelated
Rose Glass, St Maud
Andrew Kotting, Gallivant

ENG 7322: Leonard Cohen and the Burden of Personality

Prof. Robert Stacey

In a much-discussed poem in Cohen’s 1964 collection Flowers for Hitler, the speaker declares, “I will forget my style /  I will have no style.”  Connecting “Style” to both the imprint of the poet’s own subjectivity on language and to the broader “identity” of cold war superpowers whose aggressively opposed ‘styles’ were at risk of causing a global Armageddon, the speaker contemplates the possibility of a mode of being beyond ego or personality as such. This graduate seminar reads Leonard Cohen’s poetic career in the context of the poet’s struggles to escape or otherwise transform what might be called a “lyric subjectivity” within the inherited models of lyric poetry itself—a struggle which led to some of the most innovative and experimental writing in Canadian literature (until it didn’t). Working with and against the assumptions of confessional poetry, Cohen’s attempts to escape the burden of a confessional subject (the very basis of his initial popularity as a poet and on-going success as a singer-songwriter) by ironizing and subverting the generic expectations of lyric can likewise be read in the context of a Jewish writer’s sensitivity to Theodor Adorno’s claim that to “write poetry after Auschwitz is barbarism.” Though a novel (of sorts) Cohen’s controversial Beautiful Losers is, among other things, an attempt to put that insight into practice. Our reading of almost all of Cohen’s published books of poetry (we’ll ignore the last few which are terrible), along with Beautiful Losers, will be supplemented with works of literary criticism and theory, mostly on the subject of lyric and its associated ideas of interiority, subjectivity, voice, etc.   

Leonard Cohen, Spice Box of Earth (1961)
Leonard Cohen, Flowers for Hitler (1964)
Leonard Cohen, Parasites of Heaven (1966)
Leonard Cohen, The Energy of Slaves (1972)
Leonard Cohen, Death of a Lady’s Man (1978)
Leonard Cohen, Book of Mercy (1984)
Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers (1966)
Relevant Music Albums

ENG 7310: African American Experimental Writing    

Professor Thomas Allen

Black writers, visual artists, film-makers, and musicians in America have often played a leading role in pushing aesthetic forms in new directions. This seminar will focus on some significant works of literature that have challenged the conventions of textual representation from the nineteenth century to the present. We will also explore connections between literature and other art forms such as film, video, painting, sculpture, and music, in order to consider the role of a Black avant-garde in challenging hegemonic thought forms and envisioning new possibilities of freedom. We will ask how these artists have made use of experimental forms to wrestle with social and political concerns such as slavery and its legacy, the construction of racial identity in America, anti-Black violence, and the intersections between race, gender, and sexuality. 

In addition to primary texts, we will encounter a number of significant scholars and theorists, including Hortense Spillers, bell hooks, Saidiya Hartman, Fred Moten, and Sylvia Wynter, whose works have contributed to critical race theory, Black feminist theory, and queer of colour critique. 

Hanif Abdurraqib, A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance (Random House, 2021).
Martin Delany, Blake, or, The Huts of America (1859)
Charles Chesnutt, The Conjure Stories (1890s)
Jean Toomer, Cane (1923)
Langston Hughes, Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951)
LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Dutchman and The Slave (1964)
Gayl Jones, Corregidora (1975)
Ntozake Shange, for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf (1976)
Jewelle Gomez, The Gilda Stories (1991)
Toni Morrison, Jazz (1992)
Harryette Mullen, Recyclopedia (2006)
Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity (2016)
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (2016)

ENG. 6380 Victorian Women Poets: Gender, Poetics, and a Female Literary Tradition

Professor Mary Arseneau

This seminar course will consider gender and poetics within the specific context of the nineteenth-century British woman poet’s tradition. We will consider how women poets self-consciously identified themselves as working in a female tradition, how that identification informs their poetics, and the critical implications of approaching this female canon as sequestered from a mainstream, predominantly male, canon. In the process of our literary study we will acknowledge the recuperative work undertaken by feminist scholars and consider what attitudes contributed to the twentieth century’s erasure of the woman poet’s tradition. 

Beginning with Felicia Hemans and Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L.E.L.) as originators of a discernible female poetic tradition in the nineteenth century, we will trace the tradition of the “poetess” through Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti, paying particular attention to these poets’ deliberate self-representations as female artists. Finally, through a study of late Victorian poets Augusta Webster and Michael Field (Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper), we will consider how the Victorian woman poet’s tradition extends to the later part of the century. We will trace the poets’ emulations of Sappho, Corinne, and the "improvisatrice"; their experiments with genres including the epic, dramatic monologue, and sonnet; and their engagement with larger social issues. Throughout the course, we will examine these poets’ compromises and confrontations with dominant gender ideology as they attempt to negotiate a transgression into the public arena while asserting and performing their “femininity.”  

This poetic tradition is still in the process of being recovered and undergoing historical revision, and over the last decades various forgotten figures have gained a deserved scholarly profile. Our goal in the course is to continue this project of recuperating forgotten voices and discovering other neglected figures. As we shall see, the poetess tradition—which was thought of as conservatively and conventionally feminine—actually has extended into identities and poetry reaching well beyond the “Angel in the House” persona. Even when women poets are writing about emotions and domesticity, they often interrogate cultural issues. In her book The Political Poetess, critic Tricia Lootens asks and answers the important question, “Who made the Poetess white? No one; not ever.” In this course, we will pay particular attention to poets that articulate novel and ground-breaking views, and we will discover voices that are diverse in terms of sexual orientation, politics, subject matter, disability, race, and ethnicity. Through “Recuperating Women Poets” seminar presentations we will consider the poetry and critical reputations of figures whose poetry is less well known, with particular focus on identifying promising areas for future scholarship. 

Barrett Browning, Elizabeth. Aurora Leigh. Ed. Margaret Reynolds. Norton critical edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995.
---.  Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Selected Poems. Ed. Marjorie Stone and Beverly Taylor. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2009.  
Field, Michael (Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper). Michael Field, The Poet: Published and Manuscript Materials. Ed. Marion Thain and Ana Parejo Vadillo. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2009.  
Hemans, Felicia. Felicia Hemans: Selected Poems, Prose, and Letters. Ed. Gary Kelly. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2002.  
Landon, Letitia Elizabeth. Letitia Elizabeth Landon: Selected Writings. Ed. Jerome McGann and Daniel Riess. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 1997.  
Rossetti, Christina. Christina Rossetti: The Complete Poems. Text by R.W. Crump. Notes and introduction by Betty S. Flowers. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2001.
Webster, Augusta. Augusta Webster: Portraits and Other Poems. Ed. Christine Sutphin. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2000.

ENG 6381: The Unfinished Business of Nineteenth-Century Crime Fiction

Professor: Lauren Gillingham

Many of the elements that we know and love in contemporary crime and detective narratives have their roots in the nineteenth century: specifically, in the narrative methods and forms that authors developed to tell stories about crime, criminals, the mysteries that surround them, and the amateur and professional sleuths who track them. Nineteenth-century writing on crime also provided frameworks for conceptualizing deviancy, vagrancy, and social disorder which are with us still, and which continue to inform contemporary discourse on governance, policing, and race. 

In this course we will examine nineteenth-century British crime and detective fiction in its own narrative and historical contexts. We will also investigate its long legacy in our own moment, looking at how more recent Anglo-American crime fiction updates, overhauls, and sometimes perpetuates tropes and forms from the earlier period. Among the issues we will consider will be the connections our texts explore between crime, detective work, and matters of social and political reform; shifting class relations; imperialism, racism, and racial difference; and gender identity, sexuality, and social norms. 

William Harrison Ainsworth, Jack Sheppard
Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret
Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four
Jordy Rosenberg, Confessions of the Fox
Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist
Plus: additional stories and critical readings posted on Brightspace

ENG 6370: Mimetic Theory, Generative Anthropology; Shakespeare, Byron 

Professor Ian Dennis

The ideas of René Girard, unlike many of those of the second half of the previous century, seem only to be growing in influence. This course will introduce students to his theory of imitative desire, paying special attention to its application, by Girard and others, to literary criticism. We will then examine the “Generative Anthropology” developed by Girard’s most significant intellectual heir, Eric Gans, and its own critical deployments. To this we will add some elementary reading in recent theories of the human from the perspectives of both humanistic anthropology and cognitive science. We will then work through two literary test cases. Firstly, we will examine Shakespearean tragedy, reading both selected plays themselves, and the critical analyses of them by the two theorists and by other critics following in their wake, including Richard van Oort. Secondly, and using the same procedure, will read major poems of Lord Byron, including Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and Don Juan, and examine recent applications of the theoretical models under discussion to these works.

For the term essay, students will be invited to analyse a literary or cinematic work of their choice from any period or tradition, testing the usefulness of one or both of the critical models explored in the course. Other proposed topics will also be welcomed, including theoretical challenges to Girard and/or Gans.

Texts Students will be expected to obtain scholarly texts of Shakespeare and Byron, and a course reader will be prepared for critical and theoretical materials. Those wishing to read ahead may review the primary texts, and/or consult any of the following:
Terrence Deacon, The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the
Brain (1997)
Ian Dennis, Lord Byron and the History of Desire (2009)
Eric Gans, Originary Thinking: Elements of Generative Anthropology (1993); The
Scenic Imagination: Originary Thinking from Hobbes to the Present Day
René Girard, Deceit, Desire and the Novel (1961); Things Hidden Since the
Foundation of the World (1978); A Theatre of Envy (1991)
Adam Katz, ed., The Originary Hypothesis: A Minimal Proposal for Humanistic
Inquiry (2007)
Richard van Oort, The End of Literature: Essays in Anthropological Aesthetics
(2009); Shakespeare’s Big Men: Tragedy and the Problem of Resentment
(2016); Shakespeare’s Mad Men: A Crisis of Authority (2023)

ENG 6360: SCIENCE FICTION - Then and Now

Professor Sara Landreth

This course explores works of early science fiction alongside modern sci-fi and fantasy texts. Our readings are organized around four central themes: Apocalyptic Plagues, Fantastic Voyages, “Mad” Science, and Parallel Universes. Each unit begins by tracing one of these motifs back to the 17th and/or 18th centuries. Inspired by discoveries in physics, medicine, and botany, Enlightenment authors wrote speculative fiction that imagined extraterrestrials, talking animals, artificial wombs, plagues, and reanimated corpses. We will pursue these ideas about pandemics, aliens, space travel, autonomous vehicles, inventor-creators, and parallel dimensions forward into 20th- and 21st-century science fiction and fantasy, with an aim to analyze how these thematics change over time. We will read the primary works on our syllabus alongside important theory and criticism about science fiction in order to engage with debates about where the genre has been and where it might be headed. 
Our readings will include: 

UNIT A: Apocalyptic Plagues
•    Introduction : Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Seven Beauties of Science Fiction (2011)    
•    The 1665 Bubonic Plague: Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year (1722)    
•    3 “Outbreaks”: Short Stories about Femicide, Aphasia, and Mobs: Octavia Butler, “Speech Sounds” (1983), Alice Sheldon, “Screwfly Solution” (1972), and Junot Diaz, “Monstro” (2012)
•    A 21st-century SARS Novel: Emily St John Mandel, Station Eleven (2014)    

UNIT B: Fantastic Voyages
•    A 17th-century Moon Voyage: Godwin, Man in the Moone    (1633)
•    Strange 18th-Century Motions Voltaire, Micromegas (1752) and Vehicle-Narrators (1748)
•    A 21st-Century Sentient Spaceship Leckie, Ancilliary Justice (2013)         

UNIT C: Mad Science                
•    18th-Century Botanical Sex: Erasmus Darwin, “Loves of the Plants” (1791)
•    Men Give Birth in 1818 and 1984: Butler, “Bloodchild” & Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Unit D: Parallel Universes
Parallel Dimensions, 1621/1667: Cavendish, Blazing World & Bacon, The New Atlantis 
21st-century Choose Your Own Adventure: Murphy, A Blazing World (2011)

ENG 6320 Middle English Literature: Medieval and Renaissance Studies Research Methods and Tools 

Professor Andrew Taylor

How do you read an old manuscript? How do you find your way through an archive? This course will provide some preliminary answers, introducing you to the experience of working with a range of medieval and early modern books and documents. We will consider how works were composed, copied, and annotated, how they have been and can be transcribed and edited, the challenges they present, at a material level, to modern scholars, and their shifting institutional context, from the medieval monastery or college library to the renaissance library to the modern library to the internet.

The focus this year will be two texts, Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthure, which brings together much of the Arthurian story or what was often known as the Matter of Britain, and William Shakespeare’s King Lear, in its various forms. A series of practical exercises will introduce the rudiments of paleography (reading old handwriting), codicology (understanding a book’s physical makeup), and physical bibliography (understanding how books are printed). The major paper will then draw on these abilities to explore a medieval or early modern source in detail. We will visit Archives and Special Collections (ARCS) in Morisset Library and I will provide some introduction to the collection, and especially to the manuscript we have recently acquired (our third), the Passion selon Gamaliel, a French translation of the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus. 

Course Texts:
William Shakespeare, The History of King Lear, Oxford World's Classics, ed. Stanley Wells, 2000. 
Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Arthure, ed. Stephen Shepherd, Norton Critical Edition, 2004.